Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Salmon: Toxic Seas (Full)

Salmon: Toxic Seas (Full)

sandmen are pretty resilient fish and
humans do a lot to impact their lifestyle we pollute their waters build
transportation systems and dams along rivers we over harvest riparian zones destroy
estuaries and grow crops along waterways overfishing them and introducing new
fish into the wild but a lot of people forget that salmon spend more than half
of their lives at sea and the ocean is a dynamic place so we set out to discover
how our oceans affect salmon my name is Laurie white camp I am a
fisheries basic biologist I work for the Northwest fisheries Science Center I’m
involved in looking at salmon both out in the ocean as well as in the estuary
so young salmon or they’re moving downstream trying to understand what
happens to them what they’re eating who’s eating them have asked they grow
etcetera what happens so I ran a research project in the Columbia River
estuary where we’re sampling them from right below Bonneville Dam down to the
mouth and then we have an ocean program that samples a mountain the oceans who
are trying to understand kind of what goes on and we think this kind of a
story early ocean period is really important that that’s really when a lot
of the mortality that they have during their entire ocean experience occurs we
know salmon populations have been on the decline since the early 20th century the
scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint what exactly is affecting their health
since the 1930s oceanic organizations have been monitoring oceans in hopes of
understanding what happens to salmon that’s see there’s a lot of monitoring
that goes on and some of it is happens remotely others is active so there’s a
whole series of buoys that are out here and most of those have air temperature
wind speed water temperature so you can Stonewall Bank is 17 miles offshore here
and I can go on my computer and tell you exactly what the water temperature is
the air temperature the wind speed is and all the historic data is there we
have a program here something called a Newport hydrographic line and it’s from
your quinna head goes straight out from there and they sample that every
essentially two weeks they’ll do temperature salinity or conductivity
fluorometers and oxygen sensors a whole bunch of different things chlorophyll
sensors particulate size all kinds of things and so you get these profile
the water column so you can see what’s going on what what kind of the structure
of the water is we do juvenile salmon surveys so we go
out with a trawl and sample from Newport basically all the way up to Cape
Flattery on the north end of Washington and in
May and June are a primary month so we go out and go sample out in the ocean
and what’s really cool with salmon is that because they home to where they
were born each stock is genetically distinct and so we can go and catch a
fish salmon out in the ocean and we can tell you where it came from using the data collected from research
buoys and environmental assessments scientists can determine how and when
ocean conditions affect salmon but they’re finding out that ocean
conditions are not all or what they made up to be and climate change may be
influencing the marine ecosystem more than we originally thought so at this point there is there anything
that we could do to help you can stop driving your car and vote for presidents
who believe in climate change so as far as I’m concerned there’s
absolutely no question that’s happening I mean I you’ve ever been to Alaska and
you go see those glaciers that used to be there and aren’t anymore and it’s and
and what we’re seeing out here I mean it’s just we’re seeing all kinds of
weird stuff that it’s just like this is definitely not normal so is there any way that Austin back you know it’s yeah it’s really
interesting the I mean I you know all the scenarios that from the climate
models if we stop and go back to whatever previous levels they’re looking
for 1990 or whatever I mean there’s just this huge inertia in the in our climate
that things are gonna keep getting warmer until they get colder and it’s
most of the models go out through the year 2100 and there’s still the heat the
temperature’s going up even if you have stopped and really reversed the increase
in carbon emissions so there’s a lot of I mean it’s it’s actually kind of scary
I feel sorry for you all not inheriting a very good earth the marine ecosystem
in some coastal ecosystems will continue to feel the effects of climate change
the creatures that salmon concerned are those that are most susceptible to
climate change which include shellfish and phytoplankton I’m silent bharden I’m the production
manager here at Whiskey Creek we grow oysters larvae and we sell that larva to
growers throughout the Pacific Northwest so in a good year we produce about 10
billion oyster larvae and sell them you know Oregon California but mostly in the
Washington State and places like Willapa Bay and Puget Sound this business
started in 1978 so we’ve been at this for quite a while and for 30 years we
didn’t worry about ocean chemistry at all never came up you know we just
heated our water up put food in the water and made lots of money producing
oyster larvae but about 10 years ago that change for us a lot of times we
nearby ocean acidification you hear what’s gonna happen in the future the
year 2050 or beyond you hear a lot of articles talking about you know decades
from now but we were pretty surprised to find out 10 years ago that those impacts
are already here boy stirs and in particular austere larvae are very
sensitive in the first few weeks of their life we finally figured out the changes in
ocean chemistry were stopping us from producing larvae stopping them from
getting started informing their initial shell and so we’ve been dealing with it
every day since then we work with a lot of researchers from NOAA they’re
studying effects of acidification on pteropods which you might have heard of
sea butterflies those are pteropods right now today not twenty years in the
future they’re being pretty dramatically affected by acidification and that’s a
food source for salmon so in some indirect ways I believe that
acidification today is affecting fin fish however the shellfish industry it’s
much more cutting dry you know we make our money growing larvae they have a
hard time forming their shells on today’s ocean so it’s already had a big
impact on us we almost went out of business you know ten years ago before
we discover what this problem was and we’re still troubling struggling to deal
with the effects of acidification so we have you know three thousand people
working on this industry so it’s not the biggest industry in the world but
there’s a lot of you know blue-collar hard-working guys in our field before
scientists can develop solutions who increase salmon populations they must
create a list of stakeholders will be involved in the development
implementation and monitoring of the restoration projects so you mentioned you work with yeah you know you know University of
Washington some a lot of the NOAA people are there we work
we’ve traveled actually all over the world talking about this problem and
sort of had meetings not with just with researchers but also shellfish growers
and sort of government level people so we’ve been to the east coast of the
United States I’ve been to Mexico and New Zealand all over the place trying to
talk to you know people about this problem so we can start to take some
action before we get too far down the road the salmon industry involves a wide
range of stakeholders deep-sea fishermen rely on strong salmon populations to
make money catching gutting and processing salmon
for consumption around the world other fishery industries like crowding and
cramming also rely on healthy salmon populations to ensure the ecosystem is
balanced organizations like Noah o DFW and the BPA are involved in monitoring
and managing these fisheries by conducting research regulating catch
limits and restoring habitats we really don’t have control over the
ocean right I mean this huge place you can’t it’s it does what it will we do
have control over fresh water so habitat restoration you know
promoting estuary rearing potential I mean this used to all be marshes here
this is a big fill area returning a lot of estuary habitat so that you’ve got
chinook and coho and even steel head that might use that habitat that it
doesn’t exist right now so that they go out they spend some time there they grow
a little bit bigger maybe they get out in the ocean that little bit bigger
makes a big difference etc so it’s really wheat there’s not
much we can do in the ocean but we can certainly do a lot in freshwater to
really try and hedge our bets shall we say by having more diversity of the fish the Columbia is really unique in that
Bonneville Power Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers runs the dams
and because we know that the dams kill fish and they’re listed fish they are
required to provide funding for research to help understand how that mortality
occurs and then trying to do something to fix it you can’t figure out how to
fix it unless you know what the problem is where the bottlenecks are so they
fund a huge amount of research looking at that stakeholders can enhance freshwater
salmon habitat by improving water conditions removing dams and focusing on
estuary restoration estuaries are significant to a Salmons early
development introducing more riparian plants dead trees and small pebbles can
increase usable smalt habitat in turn this will improve salmon populations at
sea I’d like to say the pipe dream of stop
burning fossil fuels you know and then we’d all hold hands and everything would
be better in the ocean one fix itself but that’s not likely to happen you know
one of the things that I like to point out to people is that we right here at
Whiskey Creek burn about three to five thousand gallons of propane every week
we have to heat our sea water it requires a tremendous amount of energy
for us to do that so we’re like a lot of people in this world we need energy to
be productive so it’s difficult for us to understand even now how to make the
switch to renewable energy so hopefully what will happen is that on a higher
level you know in a governmental level we’ll start to make changes that allow
us to buy the technology for the technology to be available for us to get
enough energy to run this facility in a way that burns less fossil fuels so
that’s the goal our three state region you know Washington Oregon California
and even British Columbia are way ahead of the game in that regard they’ve been
working on it for a long time so it’s great for us to be in this area our
government is very supportive of our industry and support of these of these
solutions that are hopefully coming down the road but obviously it’s a it’s a
tough job to change our society over away from fossil fuels you researchers can monitor the results of
restoration project by conducting juvenile salmon surveys on project
streams fish managers do this by using nets and fish donors to collect salmon
record the size and test for pit tags these pit tags are usually implanted
into hatchery fish and carry stock information like release date location
and size that can be identified by using handheld receivers this data can be
analyzed to determine how and where salmon travel allowing fish managers to
focus on popular salmon routes in addition to identifying where salmon
travel the pit types can be used to analyze the health and size of stock
populations allowing fish manners to implement effective catch limits and
restoration projects the overall goal is to increase the amount of spawning
habitat and improve conditions for returning salmon eventually these
improve freshwater conditions will benefits salmon survival at sea gave
them them more opportunities to complete their lifecycle at sea scientists will continue to
monitor the chemistry of water and the help of various marine wildlife to
determine how ocean conditions are changing in addition researchers can
also collect salmon samples at sea identifying what and how much food
salmon eat at sea this information can be used to gauge the impact of ocean
conditions on the food chain and Salmonella you

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